spaceX dragon launch spaceX dragon launch
may 18, 2012

spaceX dragon launch

may 19th at 4:55 EDT marks the first time in history that a private company attempts to send a cargo craft to the international space station above: test launch of the spaceX ‘falcon 9’ on december 8th, 2010, in preparation for the mission

saturday morning, may 19th, 2012, marks the first time in history that a private corporation attempts to deliver cargo to the international space station (ISS), a mission thus far achieved only by three government-launched crafts.

at 4:55AM EDT at the NASA cape canaveral air force station in florida, spaceX will use its ‘falcon 9‘ rockets to launch the ‘dragon‘ spacecraft, which if successful will arrive at the ISS five days later. ‘dragon’ is expected to remain docked at the station for two weeks, before being released back to earth and collected from the pacific ocean.

UPDATE (5/19): high pressure readings in the combustion chamber on engine five of the ‘falcon 9’ led NASA to cancel the launch one-half second prior to liftoff. a second attempt is anticipated for as early as tuesday, may 22nd. UPDATE (5/22): at 3:44 AM EDT, the spaceX ‘falcon 9’ successfully lifted off with ‘dragon’. within ten minutes the craft had reached orbit, and deployed its solar panels.

(added 5/22) – footage from the successful launch on may 22, 2012

animated simulation of the launch and mission

the voyage marks the second flight of the spaceX ‘dragon’ craft, which was first tested in december 2010 to prove the ability of launching, orbiting, and recovering the unit. onboard is 1014 pounds (460kg) of supplies: over 160 meals, a set of ice bricks and nanoracks modules for experimentation, cargo bags, and laptops and power cords. researchers on the ISS will collect these materials, and refill ‘dragon’ with return cargo.

‘dragon’ and ‘falcon 9’ wait in a spaceX hangar a few days before their may 19th scheduled launch

the spacecraft is already in place for the launch at cape canaveral, florida image © NASA / cory huston

‘dragon’ is 14.4 feet tall by 12 feet in diameter (4.4 x 3.66 m HD), measuring 54 feet (16.5 m) with its two, 8-panel solar array wings fully extended. it contains the most powerful heat shield yet produced, composed of PICA-X (a high performance variation of NASA’s phenolic impregnated carbon ablator). like the space station, it will complete an orbit of the earth once every 90 minutes.

the craft is designed to successfully separate from its rocket launchers, calculate whether it can berth with the space station, permits its capture by the ISS’s robotic arm, and ultimately detach from the station, returning to earth and landing softly via parachutes into the pacific ocean.

while this mission contains only cargo onboard, ‘dragon’ can also be configured to hold a combination of cargo and flight crew.

artist’s rendering of ‘dragon’ with solar panels extended

additional view of ‘dragon’, artist’s rendering

rendering of the robotic arm of the ISS reaching to pull in the ‘dragon’ spacecraft

rendering of ‘dragon’ berthed to the ISS

static test fire of the ‘falcon 9’ rocket on april 29th, 2012, in preparation for the may 19th launch

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

technology news